2013 Howell Mountain Merlot
Our Howell Mountain Merlot comes from two vineyards located high upon a plateau overlooking Napa Valley. The La Jota estate is a unique spot surrounded by pines, firs, oak and madrone trees, with a cool, windy climate and lean volcanic soils. These estate grapes, selected from our Meadow Blocks, provide the wine with a serious cocoa/chocolate element. Our W.S. Keyes Vineyard, a mile down the road and with more hours of sunshine provides this Merlot with a "pop" of bright fruit character and broader tannins.
We hand-harvested the grapes into small, 30-pound boxes to prevent crushing, and then brought them to our winery for hand sorting. After destemming and light crushing, the must was cold soaked for gentle color, flavor and tannin extraction. To bridle the "mountain tannins", Chris added small amounts of oxygen into the wine with two to three "splashing pump-overs" a day during the primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks. In-barrel malolactic fermentation rounded the acidity and softly integrated the vanillin character of the new French oak barrels. To further enhance the wine’s elegance, we racked the wine three times during its 20 months of barrel aging.
"The 2013 growing season was another near perfect year. With only a day or two approaching 100 degrees, temperatures were steady and in the sweet spot of 85°-95°F. Dry conditions throughout allowed for ideal maturation and flavor concentration. This 2013 La Jota Merlot has complex notes of mocha, plum, blackberry and a little charcoal on the palate. Subtle, fine minerality gives way to a great velvety mouthfeel that lingers through the sustained finish."